Three stories about curling:
In 2005, Team Gushue came out of nowhere (Newfoundland and Labrador) to win the right to be Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics. The skip, Brad Gushue, was 26. He had barely won anything, never mind the Canadian championship, but he won the first gold medal in curling for the Canadian men. (The Canadian women’s team won the first gold in 1998.) 11 years later, he still hadn’t won the Canadian championship. This year, that championship, known as the Brier, was in his hometown, St. John’s, NL, after more than 40 years away. 13 times Brad Gushue has been here before. He finally won #14, and watching that last rock makes me cry every time.
Canada is really good at curling. Since the sport returned to the Olympics in 1998, we’ve never not medaled. They say that curling was born in Scotland, but it grew up in Canada. When players retire from the game in Canada, they travel the world, coaching other countries to make the sport better. The women’s world championship is happening in Beijing right now. Scotland’s coach is from Ontario. Korea’s coach is from PEI. Team Canada has won the women’s world championship 15 times, but not since 2008. Because the world is getting better. The world is falling in love with the ice.
But don’t worry about us. Team Canada finished the round robin undefeated, 11-0. I feel good about this team. The skip, Rachel Homan, is a three-time Canadian champion, winning bronze, then silver at her previous worlds. She’s 27, and she’s been curling for 23 years. The on-screen stats curiously always include this fact for each player, as well as their day job. Yes, as big as curling is in Canada, most players can’t curl full-time. (Unlike many other sports, this isn’t limited to women.) There are lawyers, chiropractors, financial planners, and the ambiguous “business owner”. It’s a bit of comfort for us artists that even Team Canada needs to work to pay the bills.